OIG Finds Chicago Police Department’s School Resource Officer Program Requires Immediate Changes

The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Public Safety Section has issued a review of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD or the Department) management of School Resource Officers (SRO) assigned to Chicago Public Schools (CPS). OIG concluded that CPD’s recruitment, selection, placement, training, specification of roles and responsibilities, and evaluations of its SROs are not sufficient to ensure officers working in schools can successfully execute their specialized duties.

CPD and CPS currently have no operative legal agreement that governs the SRO program. Other than a CPD General Order, last updated in 1988, which outlines the protocol for officers interviewing, interrogating, or taking students into custody on or around school property, CPD does not provide formal guidance to SROs regarding roles and responsibilities while working in schools. This lack of structure underscores community concerns about SRO interactions with students and heightens the probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

OIG recommended that the Department:

  • draft and implement a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in collaboration with CPS and community stakeholders that emphasizes the purpose of the SRO partnership, outlines all parties’ roles and responsibilities, and emphasizes that SROs should not be involved in routine student disciplinary matters;
  • collaborate with CPS, students, families, and the community to establish hiring guidelines for SROs;
  • establish and require initial and ongoing training for officers assigned as SROs;
  • establish performance evaluations that measure the ability of SROs to de-escalate situations and use alternatives to student arrest;
  • designate a program coordinator to enhance coordination and accountability; and
  • maintain and regularly update rosters of officers assigned to CPS.

CPD agreed with many of the recommendations, but indicated that its proposed changes would be implemented as part of the consent decree and would not take effect before the start of the 2019-2020 school year. Joseph Lipari, Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety, emphasized the importance of adopting each of OIG’s recommendations in a more timely fashion, “CPD’s failure to act more expeditiously to implement all of the recommended reforms leaves students, teachers, parents, and community stakeholders in the current school year without the protections and assurances of a school safety program that is aligned with national best practices.”

OIG acknowledges CPD’s expressed commitment to making necessary reforms. However, the reforms proposed by CPD in their response did not address a number of crucial areas of concern outlined in the report, such as: the inclusion of community stakeholders, establishing performance evaluations, maintaining updated SRO rosters, and defining the data and information that will be shared between CPD and CPS.

The full report can be found online: http://bit.ly/SROReport.

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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: www.igchicago.org.